August 18th, 2008
03:19 PM ET
6 years ago

Obama jabs McCain for 'rich' definition

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Obama took aim at McCain for jokingly defining ‘rich’ as earning $5 million or more per year.
Obama took aim at McCain for jokingly defining ‘rich’ as earning $5 million or more per year.

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico (CNN) – Barack Obama took a jab Monday at a weekend comment by John McCain that the minimum income for “rich” making $5 million a year.

At an economic roundtable discussion of the economy Monday in Albuquerque, Obama accused McCain of “peddling” President Bush’s economic policies from the past eight years, including tax breaks for the wealthy.

“Which I guess if you’re making $3 million a year, you're middle class,” said Obama, admitting that maybe McCain was joking.

But that's reflected in his policies,” Obama continued, “where for people making more than $2.5 million, he's giving folks a $500,000 tax break. And so this is a fundamental difference in this election.”

Both candidates appeared, separately, at Pastor Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church on Saturday for his “civil forum” on faith, values and leadership. Asked to define “rich,” McCain responded that it should be defined by a home, a good job, education and “the ability to hand our children a safer and more prosperous world…”

“So I think if you’re just talking about income, how about five million?” he later added. “I’m sure that comment will be distorted, but the point is that we want to keep people’s taxes low and increase revenues.”

Asked the same question earlier in the night, Obama joked that it was book sales of 25 million referring to Warren’s bestselling books. He then declined to give an exact number saying that it depends where one lives but that $250,000 a year means “you are doing well.”

McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds responded in an email saying that Obama is “shamelessly distorting” McCain’s comment.

"Remember when Barack Obama said he was ‘tired of distortion, name-calling, and sound bite solutions to complicated problems?’ Neither do we," wrote Bounds.


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (172 Responses)
  1. Veronica

    I don't care if McCain came off as more articulate than Obama, McCain has no substance. Everyone criticized Obama for being articulate with no substance, but it seems to me at least he was being honest. John McCain lied to our faces and dared us to say anything about his lies.

    For example:

    During his weekend interview with Rev. Rick Warren, Sen. John McCain said that if he were president he would have never nominated Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, David Souter or John Paul Stevens to the Supreme Court.

    McCain wasn't a senator when Stevens was nominated, but why did he nevertheless vote to confirm Ginsburg, Breyer, and Souter?

    It seems he was for them before he was against them.

    August 18, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  2. Jesse, St. Louis Park, MN

    To those of you saying Barack Obama is the biggest idiot to run for President, maybe you should look in the mirror and realize how big of an idiot you are.

    You do realize that we have a chimp running the country right now, don't you? You do realize that McCain wants to continue nearly all of the same policies of that chimp currently running our country, don't you?

    WAKE UP AMERICA!! THERE IS NO REASON TO FEAR HAVING A PRESIDENT THAT IS SMART!

    Obama '08

    August 18, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  3. Cindy

    Obama didn't say $55K, he said $250K. I can't believe McCain thinks a person making between $250k and $5mill are the same as those who make less than that. McCain just wants to keep hobnobbing with his rich elitist friends.

    August 18, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  4. Lesley

    McCain stated in Saturday's forum that it's not tax policies but spending that is the problem. Was he referring to the $10-12 mil a month we have been spending in Iraq for the war, was that the spending he was referring to? If so, then I agree with him. Only if he gets elected it will continue indefinitely and we will have to continue to borrow to pay for it. How is this a new or even a good tax plan that will benefit Americans?

    August 18, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  5. Harvey in Va

    Its going to take more than that to defeat McCain..it will take Hillary on the ticket PERIOD PUMA

    August 18, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  6. T.O, New York, NY

    To "Fella from Chicago":
    He had always said that his tax policy means himself and the likes of McCain, Bush, rich oilmen etc would have to pay more in taxes while those making $250K. I do not know where your imaginary $55K figure is coming from.

    August 18, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  7. McCain Is A Pain

    I'm so glad Barack didn't subject Michelle to that Saddleback audience. They would not have been kind to her.

    O/08

    August 18, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  8. Karen B in Houston

    Barak wants those who make over $250,000 to pay more taxes. Period!

    August 18, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  9. Charles

    What is Bounds talking about? Obama said McCain was probably joking when he said 5 million dollars. He wasn't distorting. He was simply bringing up the point that McCain doesn't mind the federal budget going farther in the red as long as the rich get to keep their money.
    Haven't any of you heard about how the wealthiest 10 percent pay like 90 precent of the taxes in this country? So if you cut the taxes those wealthy people are paying, that equals a federal deficit. Personally, if I made more than 250,000 dollars a year, I'd be in good position to pay a little more and would still be able to live a life style more than most Americans don't get to enjoy ever. McCain/Bush tax plan just doesn't make since for the country.

    August 18, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  10. ber6964

    McCain did a good job pandering at the interview. If I hear "My Friends" one more time from the old moron, I might just have to heave..... McCain is a rich, lying, cheating fool. Do you really think he cares what the common American has to live with?

    August 18, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  11. Montana is Obama Country

    McCain does NOT know the

    definition of

    RICH

    because

    JOHN

    is

    SUPER RICH...

    $100 million

    10 homes

    jet plane

    $500.00 loafers..

    lying and no consequences...

    only the rich....

    Only the rich...

    August 18, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  12. chris

    Who does Obama sound like? tax the rich!! give to the poor.......... JOHN KERRY....nothing new comin from the democrats..EXCEPT the message is delivered better comin from Obama than it was Kerry......

    DO people really think higher taxes is the answer...... This is mind boggling that alot of people think that...

    August 18, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  13. Beverly, NYC

    Please read the article before typing, $55,000 was not mentioned. You are showing your own ignorance not Obama's.

    McCain has already failed in one or his tenents of rich, the ability to hand our children a safer and more prosperous world…” given the national debt rung up on Bush's watch coupled with McCain plan to let the rich off the hook our children and grandchildren will be paying for it.

    August 18, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  14. r

    mcbush wana be.."I DONT KNWO ABOUT ECONOMY MUCH"
    OBANMA08

    August 18, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  15. Coolbreeze Hussein

    CNN I disagree with you. McCain did use the 5 million $ figure even though he said he was joking! Obama said that 250 thousand$$ would mean you were pretty well off depending where on where you live. I think that definatley separates the two of them. Obama also made the statement that his tax plan would affect he and his wife. I think he was very honest and sincere with his answer whereas McCain, if he was joking, refused to give another number instead going back to his stump again as he often did during the Q&A.

    August 18, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  16. Voting Obama

    Lol. I laugh at all those who are voting for McCain... You just don't know... Its really sad.

    August 18, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  17. Foreign Observer

    "Remember when Barack Obama said he was ‘tired of distortion, name-calling, and sound bite solutions to complicated problems?’ Neither do we," wrote Bounds. Lol. Either this guy's grammar is severely off, or he's just admitted to forging a quote...

    August 18, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  18. Derek C.

    McCain actually said he wanted to lower taxes for all people. Obama knows he is taking this comment out of context and is doing so intentionally.

    August 18, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  19. White/female/age 55/Texan

    No – Obama's the dumbest candidate ever – Obama thinks you are "doing well" if you make 250k per year, so, obviously, someone making 55k is not rich. You are just trying to scare people. And you must be rich, just like McCain.

    August 18, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  20. james jenkins

    I have no doubt that McCain don't know much about anything, this is why I want him as president. I say give the people what they want!!!

    August 18, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  21. Independent Voter

    OBAMA IS A CREEP WHO DISTORTS HIS OPPONENT'S WORDS.

    HE WILL SAY ANYTHING TO GET ELECTED.

    HE HAS RAISED AN OBSCENE AMOUNT OF MONEY, AND YET HE MOCKS MC CAIN.

    HE OWES EVERY SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP IN THE US.

    LESS THAN HALF HIS CONTRIBUTIONS COME FROM "THE FOLK."

    check it out.

    August 18, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  22. GS in Madison, WI

    I fail to see how Obama is distorting anything McCain says. Of course, if Tucker says it, it must be true.

    These morons that blindly support McCain are so dumb they blame the failing economy and loss of their jobs on the democrats, so much that they are shooting them in churches and party offices. Talk about embracing guns and religion in tough times. LOL

    Also, Obama is probably the smartest candidate to run for office since Bill Clinton and JFK. Unfortunately, the republicans in Congress stifled anything good that Clinton wanted to do, and someone shot JFK. It makes me wonder if the idiots down south want this country to fall apart so that God can save them.

    August 18, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  23. Gene

    Sorry Moderate in NY

    McCain didn't come out more articulate.. just livelier and more forceful. Obama actually went deeper and more articulate with every question.. which is why they were running out of time asking the questions. McCain was just snappier. Watch it again... Obama goes into detail and McCain throws out one liners and tells war stories. That's not articulate.. that's just playing to the crowd.

    Also... even though Warren knew that McCain wasn't in his "cone of silence", he straight out lied about it on TV. McCain wasn't even in the church during Obama's interview.. and McCain knew at least some of the questions because he specifically asked Warren when he's gonna get to the Supreme Court Justice questions... which warren just chuckled off. So Warren flat out lies... McCain pretends he's in a silent bubble... and the whole crowd is republican... I think Obama did quite well under the circumstances.

    August 18, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  24. Alimi

    Clinton/McCain
    Obama's title for his grandmother? "Grandmother", pure and simple. Obama delivered his speech on Rev. Wright and he was accused of throwing his grandmother under the bus. Now he claims that she is one of the wisest people he will listen to and you are not satisfied. Who would you rather listen to, someone who recognized wisdom rooted in his upbringing and exceptional family, acknowledge two women in course of one minute, or someone, who with his wife seated in the audience, failed to acknowledge her? Imagine if it was Obama that preferred two military people over his immediate relatives.

    August 18, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  25. A Republican voting for Obama

    Mccain came across as a person given a rehashed answer. The only time that he was asked an unexpected question, he started stumbling! I have been voting for the repulicans in the past elections, but come november, I will definetly vote for obama. He is far a better candidate. Mccain will definetly lead us to another war.

    August 18, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
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